Charles Underwood appointed Professor of Plant Genome Engineering

- EN - NL
Charles Underwood has been appointed Professor of Plant Genome Engineering at Radboud University’s Faculty of Science, with effect from 1 November 2023.

Underwood’s research focuses on genetic information in plants and how it is passed on from one generation to the next. ’Like humans, most plants reproduce sexually and half of the genetic information is contributed from either parent. We explore how sexual plants, including the important crop tomato, recombine their chromosomes during reproduction to generate genetically diverse cells (the egg and sperm) that contain half of the chromosome number,’ says Underwood. ’We are also interested in how a minority of plant species, including the common dandelion, reproduce through clonal seeds, that are genetically identical to the mother plant, by a process called apomixis.’ His research transcends cell biology, genetics, genomics and agricultural sciences, allowing him to make use of fundamental knowledge in the development of novel biotechnological approaches to expedite plant breeding. ’Plant genetic diversity plays a key role in adaptation to changing environments. We seek to develop approaches that allow natural genetic diversity to be fully harnessed in breeding’.

Underwood has worked at the forefront of plant genetics research in academia and industry, and is excited to build up a research group focusing on plant genomics and biotechnology at Radboud University. ’We have recently entered the age of complete genome sequences and precise genome editing. These developments lay the foundation for tackling fundamental questions and applied problems in plant genetics in ways that were unthinkable just fifteen years ago.’

About Charles Underwood

Charles Underwood was born in Preston, Lancashire, United Kingdom, in 1989 and studied molecular and cellular biochemistry at St Anne’s College at the University of Oxford. He graduated in 2011 and received his PhD from the School of Biological Sciences at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. From 2016 until 2019 Underwood worked as a Postdoc at KeyGene, a plant biotechnology company based in Wageningen. Since September 2019 Charles has led a research group at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne, Germany. During his career Charles has been awarded several grants, including a William R. Miller fellowship (2011) from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a Veni grant (2019) from the Dutch Research Council, and a Starting grant (2022) from the European Research Council. Underwood is a naturalized Dutch citizen.